Europe's hail storms hit insurers with $4.7 bln bill


By Chris Vellacott

LONDON, Sept 30 (Reuters) - Insurers nursing hefty lossesfrom severe spring floods in Europe face paying out a similaramount again after areas of Germany and France were repeatedlypounded by grapefruit-sized hail stones over the summer.

Analysis from the reinsurance arm of broker Willis estimates the insured loss from a run of hail storms to hitcentral Europe between June 17 and August 6 at around 3.5billion euros ($4.72 billion).

The insurance industry was hit earlier in the year byinsured losses estimated at between 3 billion euros and 4billion euros from flooding in Germany, Austria and the CzechRepublic following weeks of torrential rain in May and June.

According to Willis, a series of storms caused by a meetingof cold Atlantic air with hot and humid weather sitting overcentral Europe during the summer led to the subsequent "severehailstorm activity" in France and Germany.

Many of the affected areas were battered by hailstonesmeasuring more than 7 cm in diameter.

On August 6 a hail stone measuring 11.9 cm was recoverednear Stuttgart, Germany, the largest ever to be preserved inEurope, Willis said.

Dirk Spenner, managing director at Willis Re said the sizeof the insured loss reflects both the extreme size of the hailstones and the affluence of the areas affected.

"The hail storms hit a number of affluent areas, and so theproperty that they damaged - such as cars and housing - wasworth a considerable amount of money," he said.

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